08/17/22: Simple Rules for Preventing Back Injuries at Work and Improving Productivity

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

12 - 1 PM PT | 2 - 3 PM CT | 3 - 4 PM ET

Photo of Robert N. Phalen

About the webinar:

If you ask most about proper lifting technique, they will tell you to “lift with your legs, not with your back.” However, this simple rule may be doing more harm than good. There are many barriers to applying this principle, and the scientific literature and principles of biomechanics show that this is in fact the wrong way to approach the problem. Our current efforts to reduce back injuries are not making much of a difference. We need to take a step back, think outside of the box, and change the lifting scenario—not the lifting technique. In this presentation, participants will learn how to assess and reduce risky lifting behaviors using some simple rules and the revised NIOSH Lifting Equation.

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this activity, the learner will be able to:

  • Discuss why the simple rule of “lifting with your legs” can be a dangerous practice

  • List the risk factors associated with back injuries

  • Apply simple rules that can eliminate dangerous lifting activities in the workplace

  • Apply the NIOSH Lifting Equation to solve risky lifting activities

Speaker: Robert N. Phalen, PhD, CIH, FAIHA

Robert Phalen has over 25 years of experience as a health and safety professional and in academia. He has ten years of experience as a practicing industrial hygienist and ergonomics specialist. Later in his career, he received his doctoral degree in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a specialization in Industrial Hygiene. He is currently the Program Chair and a Professor of Occupational Safety and Health at the University of Houston Clear Lake. Dr. Phalen is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and a Fellow of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. He now dedicates much of his time to teaching, research, and service to AIHA at the national and local levels.


The Center for Occupational and Environmental Health designates this activity for a maximum of 1.0 Contact Hour. Participants should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation.


If you require an accommodation for effective communication (ASL interpreting/CART captioning, alternative media formats, etc.) to fully participate in this event, please contact Michelle Meyer at (510) 642-8365 or mmeyer@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail) with as much advance notice as possible and at least 7-10 days in advance of the event.

Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH)

About Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH):

The Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH) supports research, education and outreach in occupational and environmental health funded by Grant #T42OH008421. This ERC grant is under the leadership of David Gimeno, PhD and George Delclos, MD, MPH, PhD who serve as ERC Director and Deputy Director. The mission of the SWCOEH is to promote and improve health, safety, and well-being in the workplace and the community.